Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Things that go woof in the night. And why 174 is an amazing number.

Insomnia. We are all familiar with its after effects - that head-full-of-fog feeling; the fuzzy ringing in your ears and eyes puffily reminiscent of a myxematous rabbit; an all-body sensation of heaviness and of wading through treacle; a mouth that is disconnected from the brain; and a craving for caffeine and sugar, plus a cold shower, or snow settling on the face ... or pain - in fact, anything that might jolt you back into wakefulness.

Wakefulness - a state of untrammelled alertness that exists only in the world of the childless, temporarily childless, empty nesters ... and those who don't share their home with Bertie Baggins.

While I lay claim to the world's only fail-safe method for dealing comprehensively with sleepless nights in children - stop worrying about it (you'll miss those midnight sleepy cuddles one day and in sixteen years' time you'll be grateful just to know where your child is at 2am!") and simply wait for them to grow up - I profess that I am at a loss over what to do with a sleep-disturbing dog.

The internet is full of ideas -

  • have a good routine, particularly for meal-times 
  • consider diabetes ... well, I have and he's not thirsty, isn't peeing more than usual and his weight is stable, so if the symptoms of diabetes in dogs are the same as in humans, I don't think that's his problem
  • could he be anxious? ... What about?! He's a dog. He probably does worry about where his next meal is coming from and more urgently when, but even if he is worrying about something, am I ever likely to discover what it is? He's not going to tell me. Is he? 
  • might he have arthritis? - apparently this is a 'common cause of insomnia' in older dogs (... I may not tell the big boss about this prospect just yet!) but it can be managed with heat pads. Well, just in case, I have anticipated this early and given Bertie Baggins his very own heat pad ... his uncle. They have shared a crate for the past week, which resulted in silence for the first two nights, then the insomnia resurfaced and we were back to the old 4a.m. routine. To gauge how I look at that time in the morning, I just have to glance at Four-legged-friend - the effort of lifting his head off the ground, as he strains to open his eyes screams "Really!? He's woken me again!?"
  • or might Bertie Baggins be so pumped full of adolescent energy and so un-exausted by his (sometime-) daily saunter with Four-legged-friend and I, that his neurones all start to spark in the middle of the night and he has to jump around, bark and go out to run off some energy. Thus, I resolve that before I take him to the vet to beg for sleeping pills, I shall daily drain the energy out of him.

So we went for a walk today

Butter wouldn't melt!

He ran, skipped, chased rabbits, disappeared through a hedge, splashed around in muddy puddles, fetched bits of apple thrown for him and tried valiantly to persuade Four-legged-friend to chase him. We marvelled at his energy and walked slowly on.

And, on the subject of walking, remember my entry from last week?


and its reference to this?


If you were wondering why '174 is an amazing number' (see title), that is because it is the number of wheelchairs delivered by this wonderful project. Which makes it a fab number! Utterly brilliant! And for their next project ... they want to build a school. Humbling, isn't it? Something to ponder in the wee small hours. ...

Monday, 27 January 2014

"Mummy, we neeeeed another puppy!"

In life we learn to accept that there are some things that will never happen. And in the life of my family, one of those things is the getting of another puppy. Not while we have two dogs at home already. Not when the big boss thinks that two is a reckless surfeit of canine friends, agreed to only under the influence of a good bottle of red.

Not even when puppies are this cute and Littlest "neeeeeeds" another one -

But as the cliché goes 'never say never' unless the never refers to something that is either impossible, or that will absolutely never happen.

And in the never happening camp are such activities as me paragliding; or base jumping; or doing a parachute jump; or scuba diving; or bungee jumping; or that old oxymoron of enjoying a hot air balloon ride. Risk averse as always, my inner sheep dog is wagging its tail and keeping all feet firmly on the ground. I don't think Littlest would understand if I suggested that there are three dogs in this family already - Four-legged-friend, Bertie Baggins and my inner sheep-dog ... and in any case, I'm pretty sure I've had that sheep-dog for a while, so it definitely doesn't possess puppy features. Sadly!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Walking, wondering and not walking at all

We all walk.

I walk every day. I also lie. I don't walk every day, as in I don't take the dogs for a walk every day. Poor boys, in this season of tax returns and desperate seeking of extra work and working to pay the tax bill, they are the losers. Four-legged-friend was looking distinctly skinny in his hind legs, when I brushed his coat while he wolfed down his supper this evening (he tries to eat the brush if I take it near him at any other time, so meal times have become grooming times). Oddly, I lose out on the walking too, but this fails to have the same effect on my 'skinniness'...

Anyway, we all walk.

We walked on Christmas day -

Littlest and I walked at the weekend -


Time to appreciate the trees. Time to encourage the smelly boys into the freezing water. Time for the sun to go down. Time to walk very, very slowly - Littlest's finger phone was engaged throughout in deep discussion with the zoo warden - daddy bear apparently - and in giving him instructions to feed the giraffes and heffalumps. And to check his cupboard for hot chocolate powder. Imagination is a wonderful gift.

So I walk, Littlest walks, Bertie Baggins and Four-legged-friend walk. We all walk. Most, if not every, day.

But we don't. My 'all' ignores those who can't walk. Those whose limbs don't work. Those for whom exercise isn't something to choose whether or not you have the time or can be bothered to do, but is instead a dream. A dream that would allow them to be as free as the rest of us. That would liberate them from a lonely life at home. In the developed world, those of us who can walk can rest fairly comfortably in the knowledge that those who can't do have access to the aids that make their lives and the journeys through their lives possible. But in the developing world, those who can't walk face a bleak existence. Where transport is hit and miss at best and often dependent on jumping onto a 'matatu' or taxi-van and holding on, with no nod to any thoughts of health and safety or disabled access, and health care is both limited and distant , being unable to walk is a life sentence to isolation from community, friends and tragically family. Unless ...

Unless you are a teenager with a dream. Yes, that isn't a typo - I do mean teenager. And specifically you dream of setting up a charity to take wheelchairs to these 'people who can't walk'. And in the Oriana Project your dream becomes a reality.


Loads of things make me cry: the last ten minutes of Notting Hill do it every time, the end of the Lumpy Movie (a disney version of Winnie the Pooh plus heffalumps), Les Miserables (I'm reaching for the tissues with the first note), when the internet collapses half way through submitting my tax return and I have to start again and it's too early in the day for a gin, when my children sing 'Castle on a cloud' to me (I have a thing about Les Mis) - all these and the story of the Oriana project. Read it. Cry perhaps. And be inspired.

And wonder at how until now you took walking for granted.